Rocket Ismail (#25): A Notre Dame Football Legend

In the annals of sports history, the name Raghib Ramadian “Rocket” Ismail shines bright. Born on November 18, 1969, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Ismail’s legacy in American and Canadian football is unprecedented. He was particularly known for his skills as a wide receiver and kick returner, his name is synonymous with football excellence.

Early Life and Education

Rocket Ismail’s journey began in Wilkes-Barre’s Elmer L. Meyers Junior/Senior High School. His football prowess led him to the University of Notre Dame. From 1988 to 1990, he served as a crucial player for the Fighting Irish, helping ND clinch the 1988 National Championship.

College Career and Achievements

Ismail’s college career was studded with iconic moments. This includes a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown in the 1991 Orange Bowl and two kickoff return touchdowns against Michigan in 1989. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to Subway Alumni that College Football News placed him as the No. 75 player on its list of the Top 100 Greatest College Football Players of All-Time.

Beyond the football field, Ismail excelled on the track. He clocked a blazing 10.2 seconds in the 100 meters and achieved a personal best of 6.07 seconds in the 55 meters at the 1991 NCAA Indoor Track Championships.

From ND to the CFL

Bypassing the 1991 NFL Draft, Ismail signed a record contract with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts. His performance in the CFL was nothing short of electrifying, earning him the Grey Cup Most Valuable Player award and a CFL All-Star title.

1991 ALL WORLD Promo

Raghib "Rocket" Ismail Rookie (RC)
1991 ALL WORLD Promo

Raghib “Rocket” Ismail Rookie (RC)

Ismail in the NFL

Shortly after, in 1993, Ismail transitioned to the NFL, where he played for the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, and the Dallas Cowboys. His NFL career didn’t quite match the hype of his earlier years, but he proved to be a reliable and skilled player. He recorded two 1,000-yard receiving seasons, with his best season being in 1998 with the Panthers, where he had 69 receptions for 1,024 yards and eight touchdowns.

Retirement and the Hall of Fame

Even after retiring, Ismail remained involved in the world of sports. He served as a color analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay. He also co-hosted Cowboys Game Night on FSN Southwest. And even coached in the extreme sports league Slamball. In 2019 he was undoubtedly elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2019.

Ismail also found success as an inspirational speaker. He uses his life experiences to motivate and guide various audiences, from corporations and associations to youth groups.

Rocket Ismail: More Than a Football Player

The journey of Rocket Ismail, from a promising athlete to a football legend, is a testament to his diligence and unwavering determination. Unquestionably he is more than just a football player; he’s also a symbol of the thrilling and inspiring possibilities of American sports. In other words, Rocket is a beacon of excellence in football, and an embodiment of personal fortitude.